THEOSOPHY, Vol. 32, No. 7, May, 1944 (Pages 300-303; Size: 12K)
"ISIS UNVEILED"--AN INTRODUCTION
ISIS UNVEILED, H. P. Blavatsky's first book, is vast both in content and power, and the end to which a complete, profound study of it must lead cannot, perhaps, be readily perceived. On cursory examination, one may think Isis to be a somewhat overwhelming collection of data and comment, without much order or sequence. It may even seem that this work is replaced by the later, more explicit writings of H.P.B. But further reflection reveals that Isis is an organic part of the whole, with a unique position and function.
Isis Unveiled is an introduction to and a necessary groundwork for what followed in the years succeeding its publication in 1877. It was the first bugle-blow on the Theosophical field of battle; it examines and reports on the world of the present; it recounts, as does Sanjaya, the forces in array upon the plane of the personality. In Isis are reminders and reawakeners for potential Arjunas, for men and women straight-seeing enough to glimpse their true destiny, though living in and of the world. Only with such a work can the "Prometheus" in each man begin to dissolve the fetters that bind him to his "rock."
In Isis is represented the position of the individual who approaches the Theosophical way of life. Much of our consciousness in the early stages of studying Theosophy, and perhaps for a long while afterward, is enmeshed in the affairs of the visible, outer world. The mind which is environed by the senses is the immediate recipient of all messages from the outside, and must be educated first. This Isis does by reviewing for the lower astral man his corresponding world -- the world of events, of history, of phenomena, of men and the works of men in all their vast variety.
A student may have at the beginning, or may later develop, higher powers of mind, the capacity to view life in wide sweep and from high plateaus; he may be able to make use, consequently, of the more sustained philosophical teachings which H.P.B. has expounded in the Secret Doctrine, for instance. But, even so, the whole man will be stronger, more integrated, if the lower astral mind has been put through the school of liberal education provided in H.P.B.'s first book. He will also be better equipped, having done the preliminary work, to meet and deal with the varied minds of other men. H.P.B. says that only one turn of the key is made in Isis. That "turn" must be one of a series of seven, each an integral part of the "combination" that will open the "safe" or treasure-house of Man and Nature. Have we, insofar as our individual abilities permit, given the key that one single turn?
Like a noble and great friend whom the pilgrim meets unexpectedly while crossing the desert of life, Isis has a special cogency for the aspirant. Warning, admonition, advice, encouragement, and glimpses of greater vistas on the horizon of human evolution are all there for the serious reader. Seeing all the familiar objects of the world in a slowly changing light, the wayfarer gains new orientation and is ready for further guidance. Other writings of H.P.B.'s open more widely upon the realms of the higher mind and greater heart. Elsewhere, the philosophy becomes clearer and more definite, and regions are opened into which only winged souls may soar. But Isis has shown the steps leading from the known to the unknown, has charted a safe progress which does not attempt leaps beyond the soul's power to essay. In short, Isis establishes a keynote.
All this, provided proper use has been made of the help offered. The inquirer must start from where he is, by resolving in his mind and heart that portion of the race mind which immediately affects him, while at the same time he grasps and holds before his mind those injunctions which draw attention to, sustain or kindle his aspirations.
In this first of Madame Blavatsky's books is the inception of what was to ensue in the history of the present Theosophical Movement. Isis is an eminence from which subsequent events may be seen to best advantage. If this book indicates the beginning of evolution, it also secretly embodies the end. It contains suggestions that men can apply as they learn and in order to learn, philosophical principles. The preliminary precepts are supported and implanted by common experience and observation that have been skillfully brought into juxtaposition by the writer. One who comes to know lsis finds an active, beneficent influence operating upon him as he studies the book, as if a high and wise Intelligence were urging him on. Nor is such a thought mere fancy only, nor far-fetched. Rapport with the mind of a writer can be effected through his writings, when the reader is able to penetrate to some of the real meaning therein.
Isis is frequently referred to for information, for it is a valuable mine of various facts. But its greater character, that of a whole, living, functional work, is perhaps not so often sensed.
What is the purpose of Isis? Three compound objects may be discerned: First, to show individuals how they may discover and look with undazzled eyes upon the Truth, and to prove man's inherent Godhood and oneness with Nature, by demonstrating his possession of all the powers in Nature. Second, to bring out the vital principles underlying all the great religions and philosophies, to defend the Knowers of these truths, and to show Them to constitute a noble Fraternity which has left its mark upon every century and every country. Third, to examine modern thought impartially and fearlessly, exposing false claims and implementing true ones, in order to free men from the tyranny of ecclesiastical and secular authorities, and to prevent the crushing of the spiritual aspirations and intuitions in the human breast.
The present Theosophical Movement is addressed not to any one race or nation, but to the world. Considering this and the above purposes, an idea can be grasped of the titanic proportions of the labor H.P.B. undertook. The spirit of man is to be re-awakened; dogmatism and materialism are to be consumed in the fire of spiritual knowledge. Isis was the first great rent made in the veil of accumulated darkness; the Secret Doctrine, Volumes I and II, followed, confirming and extending that which Isis had disclosed. Unquestionably, these are works of the first magnitude in the life of our humanity -- Vaivaswata Mankind. Behind the wall of protection which they afford are the devotional books and articles that whisper to the student of the secret life of the Soul -- whisperings also to be heard in Isis and the S.D., for him who listens.
Isis, in pursuance of the objects above-mentioned, transports the reader to various places and periods, making him feel their reality. He comes to recognize the unbroken continuity of past and present, to see more clearly the relationship his own generation bears to past centuries and epochs. It is the mind and soul of mankind he studies, with its mixture of good and evil, nobility and baseness, wisdom and unwisdom. The tale is living history, and therefore a vision; it reveals the psychical, moral and spiritual background of our present, the forces in action, and the needs to be met. Thus we gain a deeper appreciation of the aims and the work of the Theosophical Movement. Present-day theosophists are fortunate to have the legacy of H. P. Blavatsky's discerning and prophetic analysis of history, but it must always be remembered that good fortune is greatest when, through responsible use, it has been turned to the greatest good.
Like the Theosophical Movement itself, Isis is a sifter of men. It appeals to the Spirit, and impresses fundamental precepts on the mind. Pre-eminent is the avowal of an inner fount of infinite strength and wisdom within man's own being. Constantly recurring are the injunctions to increase reliance upon that Self, to develop its potency: Man's principal duty is to acquire a knowledge of the Spirit, in himself and in others. For those who would undertake this program, all possible dangers are sketched -- the karma of vitiating sacred powers, the destruction brought on by indulgence in vanity and pride, and the miserable end to which unconquered weakness of mind and will must eventually lead.
The maelstrom of soul-life to which many disciples would of necessity be drawn in the course of the Movement is here foreshadowed, for this first of the theosophical texts limned in the abstract the events of the coming cycle. In Isis are considered the mutations induced in human nature by the alchemy of Soul-Wisdom, but always the fearless and true-hearted are encouraged. For the aid of such, its pages are instinct with the flame of purifying fires. Just as high drama can mirror man's soul, so can, and does, Isis.
Many passages serve to show that the passions must be overcome. Likewise, there are frequent admonitions that "intellect" must be superseded, that "the spirit must hold in complete subjection the combativeness of what is loosely termed educated reason"; that conscience, when unhampered by the baser attractions of man's dual nature, is an unerring guide; and that intuitional perception is necessary. Faith, based upon strong inner conviction, must be acquired. In short, the human man must develop those attributes which mark the godly man -- perception, faith and confidence, strength and purity of purpose and motive -- qualities which in their ultimate fulfillment bespeak the Mahatma, the great of soul.
It is true that the eye of the devoted student can see through any of the works of the Teacher, as through a window, the grand scope of the Movement itself. However, it behooves us to claim what we can from each of the various works in itself, since each must be written with a special message, for some particular phase of human nature. Isis, it would seem, presents a field in which the warrior-soul may broaden mind and heart. Through it he may touch that inner life which gives undeniable assurance of the existence of living Teachers, who ever watch the progress of mankind. With Them we establish relationship when we aspire to Their world and Their work, and act in accordance.
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